Sunday, December 31, 2006
Let's end the year talking about trade
How to close out 2006? How about a post about trade? [Yeah, because you never write about that!!--ed.]:
1) In the lastest issue of Foreign Affairs, Rawi Abdelal and Adam Segal suggest that the tide has turned for globalization:
Has the current age of globalization already started to come to a close? Will the process of integration continue, or will it grind to a halt?This sounds about right to me -- provided there is no major shock to the system (cough, dollar crisis, cough).
2) One step forward, one step back on U.S. trade policy. Stepping forward, Cato's Dan Ikenson rejoices in a mundane, yet positive change in how the Commerce department calculates anti-dumping rates. If the policy change takes place, it would be a welcome falsification of Daniel Kono's powerful hypothesis about how democracies obfuscate their protectionist policies (see also: "hypocritical liberalization").
Stepping back, the Detroit News' Gordon Trowbridge reports on the Labor Department's willful negligence in implementing the Trade Adjustment Assistance program:
[I]n a series of sometimes harshly worded opinions, the federal court that hears appeals of application decisions has criticized the Labor Department's administration of the program, accusing officials of shoddy investigations and blatant misreading of the law.Your humble blogger is quoted later in the story. Let's just say it takes a unique kind of incompetence to get me to agree with Sander Levin on anything.
3) Greg Mankiw cues me to a Washington Post op-ed by Senator Byron Dorgan and Senator-elect Sherrod Brown, "How Free Trade Hurts", in which a.... well, let's call it imaginative economic and historical analysis is put forward. Here's an excerpt:
At the turn of the 20th century, child labor was common; working conditions were often abysmal; there were no enforced workplace health, safety or environmental requirements; no unemployment insurance; and no workers' compensation. Workers were attacked and killed for the sole reason that they wanted to form a union; there was no 40-hour week, minimum wage, job security, overtime pay or virtually any other limit on the exploitation of employees.Oh, wow -- compared to these guys, suddenly James Webb looks like Cordell Hull.
I've written previously about the dubious nature of the race to the bottom hypothesis. Indeed, I had updated and extended these arguments in the first draft of All Politics Is Global. Ironically, this section got cut from the final manuscript -- because the academic consensus is that the race to the bottom is so easy to refute, there was no point in devoting half a chapter to it.
After reading Brown and Dorgan's op-ed, however, this chapter fragment seems worth resuscitating. So, for those people who still really, really believe that globalization leads to a race to the bottom -- click here. And for those Congressmen reading this -- go click over to this Greg Mankiw post and make the recommended resolutions.
Friday, December 29, 2006
When divas go to Liberty Fund conferences
I'm back from vacation, I'm rested, and I'm ready to wade into a two-week-old blogosphere debate about whether libertarians are cultists.
Earlier this month grand conservative blogress diva Ann Althouse posted her thoughts about attending a Liberty Fund conference devoted to Frank S. Meyer's fusionism. I think it's safe to say that the conference scared the crap out of her:
I am struck -- you may think it is absurd for me to be suddenly struck by this -- but I am struck by how deeply and seriously libertarians and conservatives believe in their ideas. I'm used to the way lefties and liberals take themselves seriously and how deeply they believe. Me, I find true believers strange and -- if they have power -- frightening. And my first reaction is to doubt that they really do truly believe.Jonah Goldberg, who attended the same conference, dissents from Althouse's point of view:
I will say here I find this — to put it in as civil terms as I can — odd. I would note that Ann really believes some things too. Moreover, so do those people in Madison, Wisconsin — which is, I might add without fear of contradiction, far from an oasis of empiricism, realism and philosophical skepticism. But more importantly, the notion that stong conviction — AKA belief — is scary in and of itself can be the source of as much pain and illiberalism as certitude itself. Indeed, it is itself a kind of certitude I find particularly unredeeming.They have a fascinating exchange with each other on this topic over at bloggingheads.tv -- in which, bizarrely, Goldberg (the non-academic) seems to better comprehend how conferences about ideas work than Althouse (the academic). This has been followed by post-bloggingheads posts by both Goldberg and Althouse.
Over at Hit & Run, Ron Bailey provides a great amount of detail about Althouse's behavior at the conference itself (hat tip: Virginia Postrel). It sounds very.... diva-like. Bailey's conclusion: "I sure hope that Ann Althouse's behavior at the Liberty Fund colloquium is not example how 'intellectual discourse' is conducted in her law school classes in Madison, Wisconsin." Althouse has a lengthy fisking of Bailey's post here. [UPDATE: Goldberg posts his reaction here. Back at Hit & Run, Radley Balko weighs in as well. And for the liberal take on the whole shebang, check out the bloggingheads diavlog between Marc Schmitt and Jonathan Chait.]
Go read everything. Having attended a few Liberty Fund conferences myself, I'd offer the following thoughts:
1) Liberty Fund conferences attract idea geeks -- people who will stay up until 2:00 AM debating the merits and demerits of different ideas. That's kind of the point of these things.UPDATE: Althouse responds here:
Idea geeks. Okay. Well, my experience in legal academia is that people who try to get into the idea geek zone need to get their pretensions punctured right away. The sharp lawprof types I admire always see a veneer on top of something more important, and our instinct is to peel it off. What is your love of this idea really about? That's our method.I confess I'm not entirely sure what "geek zone mellow" means. I think Ann is warning the blogosphere that people in love with ideas qua ideas need someone to take a pragmatist hammer and whack them upside the head every once in a while.
All well and good. But my experience in political science -- particularly international relations -- is that a distressingly high percentage of legal academics write from such an atheoretical, normative perspective that they don't realize that underlying their legal and policy pragmatics are implicit theories that need to be exposed, prodded, probed, and (often) pierced. I might add that it is my fervent hope that legal academics keep on doing this, because it means that they will continue to provide empirical grist for my theoretical mill.
That said, the book on my nightstand right now is Adrian Vermeule and Eric Posner's Terror in the Balance: Security, Liberty, and the Courts -- and they have their own issues with civil libertarians. So I'll humbly exit this debate and go do some more
FINAL UPDATE: Jacob Levy gets the last, definitive word on the subject.
ANOTHER FINAL UPDATE... I'M NOT KIDDING THIS TIME... THIS IS LIKE THE DOUBLE-SECRET, TRIPLE-DOG-DARE FINAL UPDATE: And I am telling you Ann Althouse is not going anywhere until she has the final word.
So that's it. I'm just going to back away slowly from the keyboard now... no sudden moves... no metaphors... no prose stylings that Althouse could interpret as sexual imagery in any way whatsoever.... and, yes, I did it!! [Heh. You said "did it."--ed. D'Oh!!]
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I'm not speaking to you
Over the next 48 hours I will be on a mini-vacation, at an attractive metropolitan locale, with my wife.... and without the children.
None of you will be coming along either.
Talk amongst yourselves, and enjoy the break.
Here's an opening question: does this Economic Policy Institute paper accurately assess American attitudes about the global economy?
Monday, December 25, 2006
When civil wars go transnational
Merry Christmas! In certain parts of the globe, that whole peace-on-earth-goodwill-towards-men business seems to be at a low ebb.
On its front page, the New York Times reports on two civil wars that: A) involve the United States directly or indirectly; and B) are also drawing in neighboring countries.
First, there's the obvious one -- Iraq. James Glanz and Sabrina Tavernise explain that some Iranians have had their hand caught in the cookie jar:
The American military is holding at least four Iranians in Iraq, including men the Bush administration called senior military officials, who were seized in a pair of raids late last week aimed at people suspected of conducting attacks on Iraqi security forces, according to senior Iraqi and American officials in Baghdad and Washington.Then, according to Jeffrey Gettlemen, there's Somalia:
Ethiopia officially plunged into war with Somalia’s Islamist forces on Sunday, bombing targets inside Somalia and pushing ground troops deep into Somali territory in a major escalation that could turn Somalia’s internal crisis into a violent religious conflict that engulfs the entire Horn of Africa.[Hey, you forgot the possible civil war between Fatah and Hamas in Palestine!!--ed. You are correct -- but Eric Umansky has some thoughts on what the United States should not do there.]
Saturday, December 23, 2006
What the f%$@ was Sandy Berger thinking, redux
I was dumbfounded by Sandy Berger's theft of classified documents when it was originally reported, but was "willing to believe that Berger did not have nefarious motives."
The latest round of reporting makes that second part impossible. From the Associated Press:
President Clinton's national security adviser removed classified documents from the National Archives, hid them under a construction trailer and later tried to find the trash collector to retrieve them, the agency's internal watchdog said Wednesday.For more details click here and here. This is the kind of case where the accused either pleads incompetence or malevolence. In this case, he might have to go with both.
Question to readers: will this new news cycle in any way affect Berger's current venture, Stonebridge International?
Friday, December 22, 2006
Five things you don't know about me
Eszter Hargittai has tagged me with the "Five-Things-You-Didn't-Know-About-me" meme. So, here goes, in chronological order:
1) From the ages of eight to sixteen, I wore glasses before switching to contact lenses. Not a big deal, except that my glasses were housed in the most hideous-looking square peuter frames you could possibly imagine.OK, I tag Jacob Levy, Laura McKenna, Dan Nexon, Kevin Drum, and Megan McArdle.
You mess with the wheat, you'll get the chaff
The Washington Post wraps a series on federal farm subsidies with a story by Dan Morgan, Sarah Cohen and Gilbert M. Gaul on what happens when you mess with the trough. This part of the story goes back to 2001, and does something I would not have thought possible -- it makes me sympathize with Karl Rove:
One of the most remarkable examples of the farm lobby's power came in 2001 and 2002, when the existing farm bill was written, expanding payments again over the opposition of the White House and key lawmakers. Reformers see it as a cautionary tale.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
My governor-elect needs some economics tutors... badly.
A bad week for Ahmadinejad
I was on Hugh Hewitt's radio show on Tuesday evening to talk, ostensibly, about my Washington Post essay on grand strategy. We wound up talking about Iran mostly. You can read the transcript here. Hewitt is of the belief that the U.S. cannot afford even a small risk of someone like Ahmadinejad possessing nuclear weapons. I am of the belief that Ahmadinejad is not that as powerful inside Iran as Hewitt believes.
It's been a good week for my argument. First, there are election returns:
Opponents of Iran's ultra-conservative president won nationwide elections for local councils, final results confirmed Thursday, an embarrassing outcome for the hardline leader that could force him to change his anti-Western tone and focus more on problems at home.Then you've got your student protestors -- Nazila Fathi explains in the New York Times:
The student movement, which planned the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy from the same university, Amir Kabir, is reawakening from its recent slumber and may even be spearheading a widespread resistance against Mr. Ahmadinejad. This time the catalysts were academic and personal freedom.Well, it's going to be tougher for Ahmadinejad to boost economic growth is more foreign direct investment doesn't come through. The Financial Times' Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Roula Khalaf report that this is now a problem:
Iran’s oil minister on Wednesday admitted that Tehran was having trouble financing oil projects, in a rare acknowledgment of the economic cost of its nuclear dispute.The Security Council should be approving sanctions today.
None of this means that Ahmadinejad will disappear tomorrow. It does mean, however, that the president of Iran will be worrying about more than being "insulted" by student protests.
The dictator for life is dead
If there were a contest for wackiest dictator in the world, many Vegas oddsmakers would have made Kim Jong Il the putative frontrunner. In truth, however, until today the hands-down winner would have been Turkmenistan president Saparmurat Niyazov:
He renamed the town of Krasnovodsk, on the Caspian Sea, Türkmenbaşy after himself, in addition to renaming several schools, airports and even a meteorite after himself and his immediate family. He even named the months, and days of the week after himself and his family. Niyazov's face appears on Manat banknotes and large portraits of the president hang all over the country, especially on major public buildings and avenues. Statues of himself and his mother are scattered all over Turkmenistan, including one in the middle of the Karakum Desert as well as a gold-plated statue atop Ashgabat's largest building, the Neutrality Arch, that rotates so it will always face into the sun and shine light onto the capital city. Niyazov commissioned a massive palace in Aşgabat commemorating his rule. He was given the hero of Turkmenistan award five times. "I'm personally against seeing my pictures and statues in the streets - but it's what the people want," Niyazov said.The Independent has more on the Niyazov looniness:
He renamed the month of January after himself and April after his mother and banned ballet, gold teeth and recorded music. A planet of the Taurus constellation, a crater on the Moon and a mountain peak were other things named after him....
In 1999, the Turkmen parliament elected him president for life. Which apparently lasted only seven years. The Financial Times has his obit:
Saparmurat Niyazov, the president of Turkmenistan, has died leaving the gas rich Central Asian republic he had ruled for over twenty years impoverished, internationally isolated and with no obvious successor.Western diplomats are right to be concerned -- it's going to be an interesting few weeks ahead in Ashgabat.
Whether this translates into a few interesting weeks for global energy markets remains to be seen.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
How good is the data on Giuliani?
I received an e-mail today about the join Rudy website. This triggered a question that's been in the back of my head since I read Ryan Sager's The Elephant In The Room. Sager mentioned in the book that in a 2005 CPAC straw poll, Rudy Giuliani was the co-leader. Given CPAC is probably to the right of Guliani on every social issue known to man, this was a bit of a surprise. And somewhere in my brain I've been registering this kind of support for Giuliani in various straw polls.
So along comes this Washington Post story by Michael Powell and Chris Cillizza, saying, essentially, that Giuliani has no shot in hell of getting the GOP nomination:
His national poll numbers are a dream, he's a major box office draw on the Republican Party circuit, and he goes by the shorthand title "America's Mayor." All of which has former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani convinced he just might become America's president in 2008.Scarborough's statement is not surprising. However, Hugh Hewitt thinks Scarborough is wrong:
There is an advantage in doing scores of events for radio audiences and Republican activists over the past two years: At each of them I get to conduct my straw poll. In early 2005, I offered audiences the right to vote for one of five possible nominees --Senators Allen, Frist or McCain, Mayor Giuliani, or Governor Romney.From the rest of Hewitt's post it seems like he's a Romney booster, so the fact that he said this about Giuliani is telling.
Or is it? Is the WaPo right and online commentators like Hewitt and Sager are wrong? The National Journal's Blogometer thinks it's the latter. But Glenn Reynolds notes:
I caught a bit of Hannity's show on XM today, and there seemed to be a lot of enthusiasm for Rudy Giuliani from conservative callers there. That's happened before. Maybe the larger GOP base isn't as socially conservative, at least in the context of the 2008 Presidential election, as people think.Now is normally the time when I offer my sage bits of wisdom on the matter.... and I've got nothing. I don't know how much to trust the data. It's all anecdotal, except for straw polls, which at this stage of the campaign are only a slight bump above anecdotal.
Do any readers believe that Giuliani's popularity with the GOP base is anything other than an ephemeral phenomenon? Will they continue to support a man who endorsed Mario Cuomo for governor in 1994? If so, why?
UPDATE: Yes, I misspelled Giuliani's name in my original post. So sue me.
So how are the capital controls going?
Note to self: if I ever instigate a coup in a Pacific Rim country, do not attempt to impose capital controls three months later:
Thailand was forced into an astonishing retreat from its controversial move to impose controls on equity investment by foreign investors after Bangkok shares suffered their steepest one-day plunge since 1990.
The China mystery
The great Henry Paulson-led expedition to China ended a few days ago, and beyond the purchase of a few nuclear reactors, it's not clear that any policy movement took place. Indeed, the most notable event of the trip was what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke planned to say but did not actually say:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke urged China to let its currency gain at a faster pace to end a "distortion'' that benefits exporters.Brad Setser decides to tread where Bernanke does not:
Bernanke doesn’t connect the surge in China’s exports to the real depreciation of the dollar, and the real depreciation of the RMB, but I will. The RMB's link to the dollar is a bigger political issue in the US than in Europe, but China’s exports to Europe have actually grown faster than its exports to the US over the past few years....However, it's what Setser says in this post that caught my attention:
Right now, China is worried about too much growth and an overheated economy, not too little growth. A stronger RMB could substitute for administrative controls on investment. Rather than leading to slower growth, a stronger RMB might help to rebalance the basis of Chinese growth.My take is similar to Brad's -- China's economy would be better diversified if more of its growth came from domestic consumption, China's environment would be better off if growth slowed down by a percentage point or two, and the exchange rate is one of the few non-administrative policy options available.
So, the question is, why isn't China pursuing this course of action? A few possibilities:
1) Interest group politics exist in China, and the export lobby is very powerful. That's the implicit argument in this Steven Weisman piece for the NYT:American officials and specialists on China have said that Wu Yi, a vice prime minister and the country’s highest-ranking female official, might not have the inclination, or the influence, to challenge the party apparatus that is tied to the sprawling state-owned export industries....2) The Chinese leadership is worried about domestic political stability: Howard French's story about Shenzen in today's New York Times
Readers are encouraged to offer their answers to the China puzzle.
Your holiday quote of the day
It's the holiday season in New York, which means the festive sight of twenty-somethings decorating the early morning streets with the former contents of their stomachs.I strongly suspect that many New Yorkers will vent about this during the celebration of this holiday.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Suddenly, a large wooden cube materializes in the middle of the auditorium, blocking Judge Posner from the audience-- an apparent griefer attack on the event, or the Judge himself.Hat tip: Will Baude.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, social constructivist
As the dust settles on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust conference from last week, it's becoming clear that Ahmadinejad sees the world through the lens of social constructivism.* As this Time inteview suggests, for Ahmadinejad there is a direct link between a conference on the Holocaust and Iran's current foreign policy:
Q: You've just held a conference questioning the Holocaust. Why not hold a peace conference instead? You could invite the Israelis and Palestinians to talk about peace, instead of what happened 60 years ago.This comes through in BBC reporter Frances Harrison's personal reflections on the conference as well (worth reading in their entirety to comprehend Harrison's revulsion at the whole exercise):
[One presenter] summed up his argument succinctly. He claimed there were no gas chambers at all - millions of Jews did not die - therefore there was no holocaust.The Ahmadinejad administration is not the only one to buy into a social constructivist foreign policy. And, like these other administrations, Ahmadinejad will run into two major constraints to his approach:
1) There are limits to social construction when brute facts are involved. Ahmadinejad's assumption, for example, that the Israeli government has no material power of its own borders on delusional.If only Ahmadinejad had done some more reading in international relations. Ah, well, my hunch is that Ahmadinejad will start feeling the effects of his policies right about now.
* Readers should not come to the conclusion from this assertion that just because I'm saying Ahmadinejad is attempting a constructivist gambit, all academic approaches to social constructivism are evil, wrong, etc. I'm sure some will, however.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
In your face, everyone else!!!!
Time tells me what my ego wants to hear:
[F]or seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.Hah!! I knew it!!! I knew I was Person-of-the-Year material!! Take that, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- you couldn't do better than second!! Go suck an egg, George W. Bush!! Daniel Craig, I don't care any more that my wife really, really liked that bathing suit scene in Casino Royale. I'm the king of the world!!!!
[Um... you know they meant "you" in the global sense--ed.] Oh.... never mind.
UPDATE: Ann Althouse believes this gambit is "unbelievably dorky." I wouldn't go that far. It's certainly amusing -- I couldn't stop laughing when I first read it. Beyond the instinct to giggle and the God-awful bubble-headed prose, however, there is the core of an idea worth expanding into a popular book -- the idea of production by consumption.
For a wide variety of products, traditional consumers now add value by mixing, matching, riffing, sampling, commenting, critiquing, customizing, and mutating goods and services. In the process, value-added is created. It's an interesting phenomenon, and someone like Virginia Postrel or Robert Wright or James Surowiecki or Steven Johnson should take the idea and run with it -- they'd have to do better than Time.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
My time on the F-list
My latest bloggingheads.tv debate with Henry Farrell is now available. Among our topics:this establishment.
What's the grandest strategy of them all?
Remember that blog query I made about available grand strategies? Yes, I had an ulterior motive:
"The Grandest Strategy of Them All," Washington Post, December 17, 2006:
In this climate [of uncertainty], policy heavyweights from Washington to New York to Boston are grasping for the Next Big Idea, the grand strategy that will guide U.S. foreign policy in a post-Iraq world and earn its creator fame and, if not fortune, perhaps a spot on the next administration's foreign-policy team. So who will be the next George Kennan? The current strategies on offer in various books and articles include new buzzwords, promising ideas -- and miles to go before a consensus emerges.Click on the article to see my take on the candidate strategies -- and which one I think has the best chance of winning out (though it's still a horse race). I even managed to talk about the dangers of economic populism again.
Obsessive readers of danieldrezner.com might find a few echoes of this piece embedded in various blog posts from the past, including this eulogy for George Kennan, this rave of Jeffrey Legro's book, this discussion of multi-multilateralism, and this critique of the Princeton Project over at TPM Book Club.
UPDATE: The Fletcher School owns the Washington Post Outlook section today. My colleague Lawrence Harrison also has an essay -- on whether free market democracy can travel across cultures.
Friday, December 15, 2006
The limits of political science
The November 2006 issue of the American Political Science Review is a special one: "The Evolution of Political Science." Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the APSR, it consists of about 25 short essays discussing how the APSR has treated various political phenomena.
There's something for everyone in this issue. History of political science is not as widely taught as history of economic thought, but those who are interested should check out the whole issue -- particularly Michael Heaney and Mark Hansen's take on "The Chicago school" of political science. Conservative critics of the academy will delight in laughing at Michael Parenti's rant about how political science is a conservative discipline.
World politics types will likely find Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's essay worth of perusal. The one that stands out for me is Andrew Bennett and John Ikenberry's "The Review's Evolving Relevance for U.S. Foreign Policy 1906-2006"
Bennett and Ikeberry go back over all of the IR contributions to the APSR. Their chief finding? Even in the "good old days" when the APSR actively publshed policy relevant work, political scientists did not appear to be clued in to the brewing problems of world politics:
To read early issues of the Review is to be reminded that aspiring toward policy relevance is quite different from achieving it, and that any policy influence the profession does achieve will not necessarily be in directions that future historians will find praiseworthy. Just as the Review and the political science profession in general failed to anticipate the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the Review before 1914 conveyed little sense that a cataclysmicworld warwas imminent.The journal did publish an article on the Balkans (Harris 1913), but it did not focus on the larger power transitions taking place in Europe until publication of a rather realist analysis of “The Causes of the Great War” after World War I had begun (Turner 1915). In this same time period, the Review was filled with articles putting a favorable emphasis on international law as a means toward peace.It is an interesting piece of trivia to know that not one, but two presidents have published in the APSR.
UPDATE: Commenters point out a possible selection bias question -- it might be that political scientists did generate useful predictions, but these predictions were simply not published in the APSR.
This is a valid point, but I think it applies better to the post-1945 environment than the pre-1945 one. Most of the major IR journals -- International Organization, World Politics, International Security, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution -- did not exist before 1945. All of the policy journals, except for Foreign Affairs, were not in existence. Therefore, prior to '45, the APSR would have been the predicted outlet for scholarly work on world politics.
On the other hand, Foreign Affairs might have siphoned off a few articles. I know of at least one person who received tenure at a major research institution, when their only publication was a Foreign Affairs article.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The globalization of baseball
Like everyone else in New England, I followed Scott Boras' negotiations with the Red Sox over Daisuke Matsuzaka's contract with great interest. The roller coaster nature of the negotiations caused many who questioned the Red Sox strategy earlier this week to now offer hosannas to Theo Epstein and company now. Indeed, just scroll down the Boston Dirt Dogs site just to get a taste of what this week has been like for New England sports fans.
I write this, however, not to denigrate sports columnists and sports bloggers (hell, I even find Dan Shaughnessy amusing today). Rather, as someone with a passing interest in the international relations of sport, it is interesting to note that as big a story as this has been in New England, it's been an even bigger story in Japan. The AP reports that the Japanese Prime Minister was asked to comment on it:
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that he is "so impressed" by Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, after reports that the Boston Red Sox reached a preliminary agreement with the right-hander on a US$52 million, six-year contract.As Bryan Walsh reports for Time.com, this is emblematic of a profound cultural shift among Japanese sports fans:
Most Japanese fans... are celebrating Matsuzaka's signing as further proof that Japan's best players can compete on baseball's premier stage. Japanese players who move to the majors are no longer seen as leaving Japan behind; they are seen as representing their country in the international game. It's a sign that the globalization of sport is finally penetrating this often isolationist country, that many fans here would rather watch an international game with the top players in the world than settle for a lessened domestic product. As one Japanese baseball blog put it: "Finally, all the dream matches will come true in 2007. Matsuzaka vs. Godzilla Matsui, Matsuzaka vs. Genius Ichiro, Matsuzaka vs. Igawa! I wish the MLB 2007 season would start soon." He's not the only one.Of course, there remain some interesting cultural gaps. From Walsh's report:
Japanese fans may be a little fuzzy on Beantown's traditions, though. Toshiyuki Nagao, a lifelong fan, expressed concern that "there are many academic and white-collar people in Boston, who might not appreciate baseball's earthy passion."No, Boston sports fans aren't obsessive about the Red Sox at all.....
UPDATE: For those Sox fans who want to know how to cheer on Matsuzaka and curse the Yankees in Japanese, click here.
For those Sox fans who want to know how the Red Sox can profit from the Matzusaka signing from the Japanese market, click here.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Drezner gets volunteered results on volunteerism!!
D]escribing the growth of teenage participation in these kind of activities as "volunteerism" stretches the meaning of the word a bit, since "service-learning programs" are often mandated at the high school level (that said, the growth of volunteerism at the high school level might also be a function of market pressures -- you want to get into a good college,you need to demonstrate volunteerism).I've now received an answer.
Mike Planty, Robert Bozick and Michael Regnier, "Helping Because You Have To or Helping Because You Want To? Sustaining Participation in Service Work From Adolescence Through Young Adulthood." Youth & Society, Vol. 38, No. 2, 177-202:
This article examines whether the motive behind community service performed during high school—either voluntary or required—influences engagement in volunteer work during the young adult years. Using a sample of students from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (N= 9,966), service work in high school is linked with community service in young adulthood. The findings show that participation in community service declines substantially in the 2 years following high school graduation but then rebounds slightly once members of the sample reach their mid-20s. In general, community service participation in high school was related to volunteer work both 2 and 8 years after high school graduation. However, those who were required to participate in community service while in high school were only able to sustain involvement 8 years after graduation if they reported that their participation was voluntary. Strengths and limitations of the analysis as well as implications for youth policy are discussed.
Separated at birth?
UPDATE: Attack of the killer Yglesias!!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Susan Schwab begins to answer my question
When we last left our gripping narrative about the Doha round, I asked a question without an answer:
ME: There seems to be a catch-22 on reviving Doha. Other countries won't negotiate seriously with the United States unless they believe that we can get TPA renewed. At the same time, the only way that TPA is likely to be renewed is if Congressmen seen the outline of a Doha deal. How does one escape this conundrum?In this Wall Street Journal story by Greg Hitt, I see that Schwab has a longer answer (hat tip: Glenn Reynolds):
The Doha round of global trade talks stalled after hitting numerous roadblocks over the summer. Now the White House is working to revive negotiations, even as a new barrier looms: a Congress much more skeptical of free trade.This isn't the worst idea in the world -- though I expect David Sirota to be popping a blood vessel sometime in the next week.
With regard to Bergsten's prediction, I actually think the crisis of confidence is already upon us, if this Economist Intelligence Unit survey is any indication:
[T]he Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a wide-ranging survey of 286 executives spread across the world’s main trading regions. The key findings from the research are highlighted below.
I never get invited to the cool conferences
A perennial fear that plagues aspiring policy wonks and scholars is the concept that they will be shut out from all the high-powered conferences and projects that are going on in their field.
I thought I was over that fear, but, gosh darn it, I didn't get the invite to this cool conference in Tehran that's "debating" the Holocaust. I mean, this keynote speech by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looks like a killer:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday told delegates at an international conference questioning the Holocaust that Israel's days were numbered.Apparently, some students were not too keen to hear this message, according to the Scotsman's Michael Theodoulou:
A conference of the world's most prominent Holocaust deniers opened in Iran yesterday amid international condemnation and protests by dozens of Iranian students, who burned pictures of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and chanted "death to the dictator".Hmmm... embarrassing does seem to be a word that keeps cropping up about this conference.
An Obama question that will make many people squirm and fidget
Skimming through the Obama-thon coverage from New Hampshire, this quote from a Newsweek story about Hillary vs. Obama by Jonathan Alter caught my eye:
"After seven years of the 'we kick a--, go it alone' foreign-policy response to 9/11, the American voter will be ready to try a leader who projects better on the world stage," says Jeh Johnson, a corporate attorney and former general counsel of the Air Force under Clinton. "Barack's multicultural heritage will represent that change."Johnson's quote is fascinating, because while I have no doubt that there would be parts of the globe where Obama's heritage would be a plus, I'm not entirely certain that the effect is as global as Johnson claims. Racism is hardly a phenomenon that's unique to the United States, and without naming names there are some countries out there that are not too keen on dark-skinned people. Even in regions of the globe where reason and light ostensibly prevail, there are football fans who dissent from this view.
Here's an uncomfortable question to readers -- are there any regions, countries, or classes of the globe where Obama's African heritage might not be considered in a favorable light?
Just to be clear -- these kind of responses do not constitute a knock on Obama. But Johnson's quote got me thinking, and it's worth pondering all of the effects of Obama's
Is offshore balancing possible in the Middle East?
In the New York Times, Eugene Gholz, Daryl Press, and Ben Valentino argue that the U.S. should switch to and offshore balancing strategy in the Middle East. They mean this as literally as possible:
The Iraq Study Group’s recommendation that the United States withdraw its combat forces from Iraq reflects a growing national consensus that our military cannot quell the violence there and may even be making matters worse. Although many are hailing this recommendation as a bold new course, it is not bold enough. America will best serve its interests in the Persian Gulf by withdrawing its ground-based military forces not only from Iraq, but from the entire region....You'll have to click on the link to see why they believe this to be the case.
I've got two concerns about this strategy. The first one is that much of its logic boils down to, "Osama wants us out, so we should get out to avoid further terrorist attacks." When does this logic stop? If Osama says Westerners should leave Spain because it's part of the ummah, do we heed his advice there?
This does not mean that we should therefore act in a perfectly contrarian manner either -- it just means that if the U.S. deems putting its troops in a country to be vital for the national interest, I'm not sure Osama bin Laden's objection should count for all that much. Concretizing the problem -- if, say, the governments of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, or the UAE want American troops stationed there, should we say no because of concerns about terrorism?
There's also the question about what regional aftershocks would take place when the U.S. withdraws from Iraq... which could require re-engagement. Would it trigger a wider war? Suzanne Nossel makes an interesting point about this over at Democracy Arsenal:
Many observers predict that if we do leave, the fighting in Iraq will escalate and ultimately reach some sort of stalemate. At that point, we should do whatever we can to facilitate a negotiated settlement through international involvement in mediation and ultimately peacekeeping. It is at this point that a Bosnia-style federal solution may become viable as a more organic outcome, rather than something the US would have to try to impose.It's worth stepping back for a second and realizing that the U.S. position in Iraq is so bad that this constitutes the rosy scenario of U.S. withdrawal.
Nossel's scenario one way it could go, sure. I'm far from certain that this is likely, however. An open question: would any country in the region really be both willing and able to repulse a combined Iranian-Badr Brigade offensive across the country?
None of this means that Gholz, Press, and Valentino are wrong. It just means that I'm uncertain.
Commenters should probably weigh in at this point.
UPDATE: Daryl Press expands upon the comment he posted below with the following e-mail:
It's really hard to tell how [the Gulf emirates] feel about having us there, to be honest. They say all the right things about their close friendship with the Americans. At least when they're speaking to English-language news outlets. But they must feel pretty conflicted.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Any other grand strategies out there... anyone?
For the next few days I'm going to be perusing the various grand strategies that have been put out there over the past year or so. So far I've got Francia Fukyama's "realistic Wilsonianism," Robert Wright's "progressive realism," Lieven and Hulsman's "ethical realism," and Slaughter and Ikenberry's "Liberty under Law."
Here's my question to readers -- am I missing anything? Are there other candidate grand strategies that have been proposed in recent years that I'm overlooking?
Mendacity and stupidity are not a party-specific phenomenon
As my previous post might suggest, I'm just a wee bit fed up with the deteriorating and costly U.S. position in the world. It's annoying because, at so many points in time, the Bush administration could have avoided so many of these costs. Instead, we've received ample doses of Bush-endorsed mendacity and stupidity.
However, it should be noted that these qualities are certainly present on the Democratic side of the ledger.
It's a good news Monday.... not
Let's see, what's going on in the world today?
According to Carlotta Gall and Ismail Kahn of the New York Times, it now doesn't matter what happens in Afghanistan -- because Al Qaeda and the Taliban have acquired a permanent and unmolested base in Pakistan's tribal regions anyway:
Islamic militants are using a recent peace deal with the government to consolidate their hold in northern Pakistan, vastly expanding their training of suicide bombers and other recruits and fortifying alliances with Al Qaeda and foreign fighters, diplomats and intelligence officials from several nations say. The result, they say, is virtually a Taliban mini-state.For more on the deteriorating situation, click over to the International Crisis Group's report, "Pakistan’s Tribal Areas: Appeasing the Militants." They pretty much place the blame on the Musharraf government:
Badly planned, poorly conducted military operations are also responsible for the rise of militancy in the tribal belt, where the loss of lives and property and displacement of thousands of civilians have alienated the population. The state’s failure to extend its control over and provide good governance to its citizens in FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] is equally responsible for empowering the radicals. The only sustainable way of dealing with the challenges of militancy, governance and extremism in FATA is through the rule of law and an extension of civil and political rights. Instead, the government has reinforced administrative and legal structures that undermine the state and spur anarchy.And then there's Iraq....
One of the few things the Bush administrationostensibly prepared for in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom was an expectation of massive refugee flows to neighboring countries. As Bush officials delighted to point out in first years after the invasion, that was one calamity that did not befall Iraq.
How times have changed. The Boston Globe has been doggedly reporting on the growing refugee problem. This story by Thanassis Cambanis does a good job of illustrating the regional problems Iraqi refugee flows will create. It cites a UNHCR report that points out,""Iraq is hemorrhaging. The humanitarian crisis which the international community had feared in 2003 is now unfolding."
Today's front-pager by Michael Kranish explains the dilemma for the Bush administration:
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homeland are likely to seek refugee status in the United States, humanitarian groups said, putting intense pressure on the Bush administration to reexamine a policy that authorizes only 500 Iraqis to be resettled here next year.Here's a question for any remaining Bush-supporters -- is there any way you can still claim that this is all just an artifact of liberal media bias?
Saturday, December 9, 2006
Lincoln with Chinese characteristics
Three years ago, I wrote the following:
As a regional actor in Asia, Beijing can not and should not be ignored. As a global actor, its profile remains relatively small, even compared with the Unitred States a century ago.Today, the
New York Times has a front-pager by Joseph Kahn demonstrating that a lot has happened since then:
In the past several weeks China Central Television has broadcast a 12-part series describing the reasons nine nations rose to become great powers. The series was based on research by a team of elite Chinese historians, who also briefed the ruling Politburo about their findings.Kahn reviews the documentary series [Hey, PBS, how about purchasing its rights and broadcasting a version with subtitles here in the states?!--ed.]. This part stands out: "In the 90 minutes devoted to examining the rise of the United States, Lincoln is accorded a prominent part for his efforts to “preserve national unity” during the Civil War. China has made reunification with Taiwan a top national priority."
It will be interesting to see how and when China translates its growing economic power into ideational power. This, intriguingly, is (kind of) the topic of Jeffrey Garten's op-ed in the NYT about higher education in Asia:
At a summit meeting of leaders next week in the Philippines, senior officials from India, Singapore, Japan and perhaps other countries are scheduled to discuss the revival of an ancient university in India called Nalanda. It is a topic unlikely to receive much mention in the Western press. But no one should underestimate the potential benefits of this project to Asia, or the influence it could have on Asia’s role in the world, or the revolutionary impact it could make on global higher education....I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that Garten is focused too much on regional initiaties and not enough on national ones -- but this seems like enough to chew on for the weekend.
Friday, December 8, 2006
Syllabi for next semester
The following is likely to only interest students at the Fletcher School:
Here are the syllabi for my spring courses:
UPDATE: Thanks to those who are caching typos!
The perils of precocious children
A breakfast play, in one act (draft only):
MOTHER: Sam, what would you like for breakfast?AUTHOR'S NOTE: Use cereal bars as deus ex machina to end play if necessary.
Thursday, December 7, 2006
Draw your own conclusions about American pop culture
What is the significance of the fact that the following is currently ranked as the most viewed YouTube video for today?
A) The imminent arrival of the apocalypse?
B) Ironic detachment is now the predominant stance of Internet users?
C) YouTube has jumped the shark?
D) Ain't nothin' over til it's over?
E) There are a lot of Airplane II: The Sequel fans?
F) Montage sequence + Bill Conti theme = Crazy delicious?
Save the rust belt -- and screw western Washington
The New York Times' Leslie Wayne looks at the renewed demand for Boein's 747 jet. Turns out that the expansion of trade has something to do with it:
[A] funny thing happened to the 747 on the way to the graveyard: it found a new tailwind, and a strong one at that.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Open Baker-Hamilton thread
Comment away on:
1) The Iraq Study Group's report;
The gift that keeps on giving for protectionism
Ah, the Democratically-controlled Congress -- is there any step towards economic liberalization that they won't block?
Don Phillips, "U.S. Withdraws Plan on Foreign Investment in Airlines, Disrupting Open-Skies Treaty," New York Times, December 6, 2006:
The Bush administration withdrew a plan on Tuesday to give European airlines more freedom to invest in American airlines and to participate in management decisions, bowing to opposition expected to deepen in a Democratic-controlled Congress.I was curious about he substantive reasons why unions were opposing this particular agreement, seeing as the sweatshop argument did not seem credible.
You see some of the union arguments by clicking here and here. As near as I can determine, the primary reason for opposition is based on simple protectionism akin to the Dubai Ports World episode-- they simply do not want to see foreign ownership and control of U.S. carriers.
As for the benefits of an Open Skies arrangement? One union head argued that since the benefits are likely to be realized in the medium to long-term, there's no real cost to scuttling the arrangement.
Gonna be a long two years.....
The grounded open-skies deal was only half the prize sought by both sides. Ending most market-access restrictions would have triggered a second round of talks aimed at creating an Open Aviation Area (OAA), with more alignment of safety, security and competition policy and, perhaps, investment and ownership rules....ANOTHER UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times' Paul Thornton has more on the killing of this deal (hat tip: Virginia Postrel). He also addresses the national security concern -- as I suspected, it's about as well-placed as the Dubai Ports World fiasco:
A "homeland security risk"? All the DOT's proposal would have allowed is non-citizens to hold executive positions in airlines that oversee purely economic decisions (think fares, routes and aircraft purchases). The proposal explicitly -- I repeat, explicitly -- walled off non-citizen managers from having any say in an airline's security. In fact, the DOT proposal would have left the 25% foreign ownership cap completely intact; it even had the blessing of the Department of Defense....
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
The Campaign for America's Future... and its enemies
In what I am convinced is a plot to make me reject Brink Lindsey's efforts to get libertarians and liberals to kiss on the first date, I was sent the following press release:
More than 100 leaders, speaking for dozens of progressive organizations, assembled today to organize a campaign to back major portions of the House Democrats' early legislative agenda. The attending groups represent an expansion of a regular meeting of progressive leaders known as the "Tuesday Group." Organizers said support for key elements of the agenda represents a down payment on a more ambitious agenda for change promised by the new majority in Congress.I should add that I do think the Campaign for America's future is likely correct in its assertion that "Democrats ran the most populist elections in memory." For support, click on this Stan Greenberg analysis of the midterm exit polls, as well as Public Citizen's report, "Election 2006: No to Staying the Course on Trade."
What happened to bowling alone?
The Corporation for National and Community Service -- a government entity that runs AmeriCorps and Senior Corps -- issues a report that would, at first glance, surprise those who have read Bowling Alone. From the press release:
Volunteering has reached a 30-year high in the United States, as more people pitch in to help their communities, according to a study released today by the Corporation for National and Community Service....After another glance, this result can be partially and uneasily reconciled with Putnam's thesis of declining social capital. First, Putnam focused on a wide range of behaviors beyond volunteerism, which this report doesn't cover. Second, this report still shows a volunteering gap among Gen X-ers like myself, which prompted Putnam's book in the first place. Third, describing the growth of teenage participation in these kind of activities as "volunteerism" stretches the meaning of the word a bit, since "service-learning programs" are often mandated at the high school level (that said, the growth of volunteerism at the high school level might also be a function of market pressures -- you want to get into a good college,you need to demonstrate volunteerism).
One question I'm curious about: these service programs have been in place for quite some time now. Does anyone know if hard data exists showing that participation in them triggers a life-long pattern of volunteerism?
Monday, December 4, 2006
Name that mutual interest!!!
The AP reports that State Department press officer Eric Watnik has a wry sense of humor when it comes to Venezuela:
The State Department, long at odds with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, greeted the populist leader's landslide re-election victory by holding out the possibility of a more cooperative relationship with his government.Readers are strongly encouraged to name issues in which Hugo Chavez and George W. Bush would share a mutual interest.
Who's going to fuse with libertarians?
Over at The New Republic, Brink Lindsey argues that Democrats should start catering liberarians more aggrssively:
Libertarian disaffection [with the GOP] should come as no surprise. Despite the GOP's rhetorical commitment to limited government, the actual record of unified Republican rule in Washington has been an unmitigated disaster from a libertarian perspective: runaway federal spending at a clip unmatched since Lyndon Johnson; the creation of a massive new prescription-drug entitlement with hardly any thought as to how to pay for it; expansion of federal control over education through the No Child Left Behind Act; a big run-up in farm subsidies; extremist assertions of executive power under cover of fighting terrorism; and, to top it all off, an atrociously bungled war in Iraq.I'm not going to excerpt Lindsey's case because it should be read in full (click here to read it if you're not a TNR subscriber).
One critique of it is that while Lindsey focuses on the possible areas of common ground (corporate welfare, immigration, tax reform) he elides the issues where Democrats want to promote economic populism (the minimum wage, trade expansion) because it gets more votes than libertarians can proffer themselves. Even here, however, Lindsey could argue that programs do exist (trade adjustment assistance) that could potentially split the difference.
My only other critique comes with what's missing in this paragraph:
Conservative fusionism, the defining ideology of the American right for a half-century, was premised on the idea that libertarian policies and traditional values are complementary goods. That idea still retains at least an intermittent plausibility--for example, in the case for school choice as providing a refuge for socially conservative families. But an honest survey of the past half-century shows a much better match between libertarian means and progressive ends. Most obviously, many of the great libertarian breakthroughs of the era--the fall of Jim Crow, the end of censorship, the legalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce laws, the increased protection of the rights of the accused, the reopening of immigration--were championed by the political left.None of what's in this paragraph is incorrect. Again, however, Lindsey does omit the successes in microeconomic policy -- deregulation, welfare reform, declines in marginal tax rates, shifts in antitrust policy, the 1986 tax reform -- that conservative fusionism produced in the past few decades.
UPDATE: Sebastian Mallaby mulls over Lindsey's essay in the Washington Post today. Hat tip to Inactivist, who also has some thoughts on the matter. Also check out the series of posts at the Volokh Conspiracy.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Over at The American Spectator, John Tabin suggests that a liberal-libertarian fusionism won't take:
The problem with this idea is that classical liberalism (or libertarianism) and modern liberalism (or progressivism, or egalitarian liberalism) are fundamentally at odds philosophically. The crux of the split is the difference between negative and positive liberty, a difference that illuminates how libertarians and liberals are separated even when they seem to be allied.It's convenient for conservatives to make this argument, but Tabin shrewdly links to this Matt Yglesias post from a few months ago that makes the same point:
For one thing, a lot of the views liberals tend to think of us libertarian-ish liberal positions aren't actually especially libertarian at the end of the day. For example, liberals, like libertarians, don't think the coercive authority of the state should be deployed to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Unlike libertarians, however, liberals generally think the coercive authority of the state should be deployed to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians. We think that landlords shouldn't be allowed to refuse to rent houses to gay men, that bartenders shouldn't be allowed to refuse to serve them, that employers shouldn't be allowed to fire them, etc. Liberals believe in a certain notion of human liberation from entrenched dogma, prejudice, and tradition, but this isn't the same as hostility to state action, even in the sex-and-gender sphere.To argue in favor of Lindsey now, these are good but not devastating points. Both Tabin and Yglesias assume that all libertarians are so dogmatic that they cannot compromise in the interest of pursuing larger gains. Most libertarians -- including, I suspect, the overwhelming majority of the 28 million voting-age Americans that Boaz and Kirby identify as libertarian -- will not automatically blanch at, say, anti-discrimination laws as a deal-breaker. Well, they'd blanch, but they wouldn't faint.
In other words, libertarians run the gamut from Murray Rothbard to, say, Milton Friedman. And more of them are sympatico with someone like Friedman than someone like Rothbard. [Rothbard had reasons to link with the left as well!--ed. True, which suggest a very different lib-lib fusionism than the one that interests Lindsey.]
Sunday, December 3, 2006
We've got blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, spam, and blog
So I see that the second-most interesting article about blogs in the New York Times today got a lot of attention. That would be K. Daniel Glober's op-ed on the increased linkages between bloggers and political candidates:
The Netroots.” “People Power.” “Crashing the Gate.” The lingo of liberal Web bloggers bespeaks contempt for the political establishment. The same disdain is apparent among many bloggers on the right, who argued passionately for a change in the slate of House Republican leaders — and who wallowed in woe-is-the-party pity when the establishment ignored them.As William Beutler points out, this op-ed has not had the best of reactions in the blogosphere -- in large part because the piece could give the impression that some campaign bloggers did not act up to the Times' ethical standards.
Me,I just yawned, and recalled what I wrote about this six months ago:
What's going on is not illegal, or even out of the ordinary in Washington, DC. It's politics as usual. The only reason the story is noteworthy is because bloggers... have persistently said that they and theirs -- a.k.a., the netroots -- are not about politics as usual.Now, the most interesting story about blogs in the NYT today was Clive Thompson's cover story in the magazine about how blogs and wikis could prove useful structures for intelligence analysis:
[T]hroughout the intelligence community, spies are beginning to wonder why their technology has fallen so far behind — and talk among themselves about how to catch up. Some of the country’s most senior intelligence thinkers have joined the discussion, and surprisingly, many of them believe the answer may lie in the interactive tools the world’s teenagers are using to pass around YouTube videos and bicker online about their favorite bands. Billions of dollars’ worth of ultrasecret data networks couldn’t help spies piece together the clues to the worst terrorist plot ever. So perhaps, they argue, it’ s time to try something radically different. Could blogs and wikis prevent the next 9/11?....Clearly there are downsides as well, and Thompson discusses most of them in the story.
Friday, December 1, 2006
Macroeconomics 101 in two paragraphs
Not really -- but this Brad DeLong essay contains two paragraphs that do an excellent job of explaining the complex interplay between what John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman believed:
From one perspective, Friedman was the star pupil of, successor to, and completer of Keynes’s work. Keynes, in his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, set out the framework that nearly all macroeconomists use today. That framework is based on spending and demand, the determinants of the components of spending, the liquidity-preference theory of short-run interest rates, and the requirement that government make strategic but powerful interventions in the economy to keep it on an even keel and avoid extremes of depression and manic excess. As Friedman said, “We are all Keynesians now.”Hat tip: Greg Mankiw.